Be the Best (Insert Your Name Here) You Can Be

Be the Best (Insert Your Name Here) You Can Be May 8, 2013

Last week I attended a meeting where a very famous sports broadcaster gave a motivational speech. Generally, I am not very motivated by motivational speakers. This gentleman, however, was sufficiently non-motivating in a way that was actually inspiring.

Let me explain.

Rather than hyping up the audience with animated clichés and pithy anecdotal stories that I’ve already heard before from other motivational speakers, this gentleman spoke mostly about the highs and lows of his career. The twenty minute speech was delivered in a very low-key, humble manner, and purposefully included mistakes and lessons learned in getting to where he is today (the status of which, as I mentioned, is, “Very Famous”).

You would think by now this seasoned professional should be coasting on the fumes of his previous two decades of success. Instead, he spoke with great personal conviction about his ongoing obsession with the quality of his work.

“Every night after the game, I go home and review the tapes of my broadcast,” he told us. “I pick apart what I did well, and what I could have done differently. Did I use proper grammar? Was I prepared well enough? Did I clearly describe the plays? I then take notes and try to incorporate them into the next day’s work.”

This amazed me. Here is this smooth, polished, successful professional, a guy who literally has made it to the top rung of his chosen profession, and yet he is still thinking about what he could be doing better, how he might improve his performance.

Even if he is the only person who notices.

I thought about what it would be like if I had tapes of my own to review every night after work. How helpful that might be, the opportunity to walk through a play-by-play performance of the workday! Was I articulate enough? Did I listen well? Did I provide enough support to those who count on me? Was I focused on the right things?

I pictured myself sitting alone in the late-night darkness of the family room, leaning forward in the easy chair while bathed in the blinky light of the TV. There I am, in a high-def rerun, leading a meeting, on the phone with a colleague, working feverishly on a deadline for an upcoming presentation. I watch the replays of the day with an earnest concentration, jotting down poignant tips into a worn-out spiral notebook that I’ll take into work the next day.

Oh, good call there with that guy. He had it coming.

Oops, that was embarrassing!

Dude, you really blew off that person unnecessarily.

Sheesh! That was about as clear as mud.

But then again, even if I had these tapes, I am not so sure I would go to the trouble of spending two hours reviewing them at the end of the day. Maybe I would just plop into the recliner, lean back, forget about the day, and watch another episode of The Office instead.

As he closed his speech, the famous sports broadcaster gave some parting advice: “Look,” he said. “The only thing I can tell you is that you’ve got to be yourself. If you try to fake it by being someone you’re not, you will fail at whatever you do.”

For most of us, this is a very liberating message. That being said, “being yourself” doesn’t give you permission to slack off.

I better review those tapes tonight.

[This article first appeared at The High Calling, used by permission. Image by Omefrans. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.]


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